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I’ve seen Bruce Springsteen many times but I’ve never been one of those people who waited all day for the chance to be up close. I’m actually one of those people who feels lucky just being in the building with him and 15,000 others and the Sports Arena is fairly small and intimate for a big box. But I got an email from Ticketmaster about the chance to be in the lottery for a pit wristband and I asked my wife, Marci, to indulge me and head out to the arena early in the day to get a number. We grabbed two friends and all of us got one. Went back home, scrambled to be ready to go into the show two hours before the rest of the crowd. 

Five hours later we were 4 of the lucky 500 that got to be in the pit sandwiched between two stages with friends we knew and many that we made. With only the few of us in attendance, Bruce treated us to a solo acoustic version of “For You”. Grown men my age were crying. I hugged strangers. All of us touched by this rare moment with one of our greatest heroes.

The excitement built long before the real show began, knowing that he’d be crowd surfing above us and walking the rails around us for us to touch and be close to. I’ve never seen Marci so excited to be at a show. She held her position along the rail and waited for her moment. Bruce came off the stage and walked around the audience, down a special aisle where we were able to hold him captive for what seemed like hours. We held him, passed him from one to another and marveled in the intimacy of this night. We felt Clarence’s presence and were treated to the amazing Tom Morello’s guitar on “Ghost of Tom Joad” and songs from the new album.

Time and again, Bruce delivers a powerful, emotional, driving show that reminds me why I love rock and roll and how music inspires me and everyone around us. Back from the show, last night, when the crowd was gone and it was just Marci and me, I had a chance to let the day sync in. I found my fingers flying on my phone and when I was done, this is what I was left with…

 

A day of adventure to remember. Started with no surrender and became a night so tender.

He blew doors off and smashed windows, came for you and showed us badlands. Led his band as we raised our hands and we waited, together, on a sunny day.

Nephew Jake took the big man’s place and there was Clarence before he was gone without a trace.

We stood on 10th avenue to freeze out the problems of the day and to remember that America has lost its way.

We chased ghosts and Tom Joad with Morello a fucking great guitar fellow.

We met folks from Vancouver able to maneuver us to the front rail to hold and hail our man Bruce.

He played us fast and let us loose to stir in our own sweaty juice. He motioned little Stevie and Stevie moved Garry and Garry brought Jake and the music began to snake from horns to percussion and ivory keys that rattled hard.Till it came round to the Boss who left us at a loss for the words we won’t hear until maybe next year.

But at 62 how long will he do what we love so much? That’s why we come back. So we track back to when we all fell in love with The Scooter and the Big Man now above.

Setlist:
For You (solo acoustic) [Pre-show]
* * *
No Surrender
We Take Care of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
Badlands
Death to My Hometown (with Tom Morello)
My City of Ruins
Does This Bus Stop at 82nd Street?
Jack of All Trades (with Tom Morello)
Youngstown
Prove It All Night
Darkness on the Edge of Town
Easy Money
Waitin’ on a Sunny Day
Apollo Medley
Racing in the Street
The Rising
Lonesome Day
We Are Alive
The Ghost of Tom Joad (with Tom Morello)
Land of Hope and Dreams (with Tom Morello)
* * *
Rocky Ground (with Michelle Moore)
Bobby Jean
Born to Run
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out (with Tom Morello)

Coachella MUST SEE… I know you all want to see the top acts on the main stage but here are a few you should check out on the smaller stages…

FRI:
- SebastiAn (3:50 Sahara /Dance!)
- Gary Clark Jr (4:30 Gobi, soul/blues/rock)
- The Rapture (8:55 Mojave, post punk/electronic/rock – the basis for LCD Soundsystem’s existence!)
- The Horrors (12am, Gobi, underground/UK/Indie rock)

SAT:
- Spector (12:30 Gobi , think Roxy Music meets the Strokes and the Killers)
- Grace Potter (3:40 Outdoor – Stevie Nicks meets Tina Turner. Chick ROCKS!)
- Kasabian (8:35 Mojave – run from The Shins to catch a bit. Oasis/Stone Roses)
- SBTRKT (10:15 Gobi – post-dub, electronic, garage – AMAZING talent)

SUN:
- Lissie (12:50 Outdoor – cutest country folk rocker you’ll ever see!)
- Beats Antique (5:50 Mojave – experimental world fusion)
- The Airplane Boys (7:10 Gobi – Gotye next door will be tempting. These guys are more fun!)
- DJ Shadow (9:40 Gobi – incredible stage, chill wave, groove. Perfect if you’re over Florence and prepping to be assaulted by Dre and Dogg

Tonight In Jungleland

That saying “you don’t know what you got till it’s gone” applies today. Clarence Clemons, godfather of the sax in rock and roll for ME, is gone. As I think about all the days I spent locked in my room as a young teenager in 1975 when Born to Run came out, I have to think, immediately, of the sax solo in “Jungleland” and how emotional I got when I heard it live for the first time. Hearing it tonight is no less so. That song and that album redefined rock and roll for me. The lyrics, Bruce’s energy and that sax changed my view of how much fun you could have listening to music.

I can’t profess to know much about Clarence’s background. I haven’t listened to a ton of Bruce in recent years (although I’ve seen him and the E-Street band at least a dozen times) but I can tell you this – I’m crying like a baby right now. I’m man enough to admit it. That song and that album hold dear sweet memories of my youth. I took my dates to his shows, I played that song on many a night when I wanted to impress those same dates and I danced wildly and often on the top of my bed trying to be IN that band.

That song is as much a part of my teenage years as any song is – maybe more so than them all. Listening to “Jungleland” tonight and suddenly remembering “Meeting Across the River” and “Tenth Avenue Freezeout” make me realize how much larger than life the Big Man was for me now that he’s gone. RIP Clarence. There was never a Bruce without you. The band’s sound WAS you.

I met a woman outside the Friendly Fires show after they finished playing a sold out Show at the Music Box.

Friendly Fires stoked music passion for a guy from Manhattan Beach and a Girl From Brazil all the same.

It was only a few moments but here’s what I know.

Danielle is 25. Living in Santa Barbara having just moved from Brazil. She heard Friendly Fires on the radio. Heard there was a sold out show in LA 100+ miles. She drove down by herself to see the show and then she drove back.

I have done similar things in my life. Some recently – like finding out Phish was covering “Exile on Main Street” on Halloween and 45 minutes later left the family without a ticket to travel 3 hours away. I did it on a smaller scale tonight, but nonetheless… Woke up. Heard the band and thought – that’s going to be a rock and roll show. Wife’s in Vegas, kids are out. What am I going to do? Sit home with the dog and watch House? I went to Stub Hub after watching the price fall from $60 to $25. Used my Paypal slush fund to score a ticket and headed out to the Music Box. Traveled only 30 minutes, barely any traffic. I saw a killer show, met Danielle. It was brief. Made no difference that she was young and beautiful (maybe a little). Just that we both made the effort to go alone.

I gave her a copy of the set list I got from their sound engineer from London named “Bars”, and walked to my car thinking – ain’t music great. All walks of life from all corners of the planet driven to see the show by the sheer passion of the sound and the journey. Hope you got home safe Danielle.

Next up – Florence and the Machine at the Greek on Monday. EDC in Vegas with my daughter on June 25th. The adventures continue.

Does it always have to be an epiphany? Have photos and links? Or can it just simply be something like this…

I’ve been away for too darn long because I have it in my head that it needs to be all of the above. When the truth is I just want to share my adventures with people that care.

Like tonight – heading out to the Troubadour with Emma, my 16 year old, to see The Radio Dept. They won’t be the next greatest band – but they will be a wonderful shared experience for me and Emma. We’ll be at one of the greatest rock and roll venues in the history of music. Where all the greats have come through. We’ll see friends in the crowd, working the door and the bar. We’ll be treated like family and, hopefully, we’ll have a milkshake at Millions of Milkshakes afterwards.

It’s a school night for us both. We’ll get home late too. But none of that matters. Because I’m going to my 4th show this month with my little girl and we have so many more in store. Years of festivals, secret shows, talented musicians and personal experiences I never dreamed I’d have with my teenage girl.

Emma wants to hear “David”. I hope she gets it.

Go see live music. And preferably, with your kids.

It’s been a busy year seeing live music and traveling the world to prepare for my annual top picks CD for the CD club I’m in.

Maggie and Sam join me at EDC. Or did I join them?

Made it to Lollapalooza and Coachella, raved at the Coliseum with my 18 year old for EDC over two days, traveled to Red Rocks for STS9, saw Andrew Bird perform for 500 people at USC, caught Delphic, Grizzly Bear and Beach House in London, discovered Mumford and Sons, reveled in MGMT, danced under the full moon with Dave Matthews at the Hollywood Bowl, rose with Phoenix at the Bowl and closed the Music Box at 5 am with Benny Benassi, strained to see Vampire Weekend with my kids at the Bowl, danced insanely at the Orpheum with Widespread Panic and saw my 12 year old on stage with Michael Franti holding the set list at the Wiltern.

Like Dad like daughter. Dana grabs the Michael Franti Club Nokia set list.

But NONE of those bands or experiences made this years list.

Arcade Fire opened the show at the Shrine the other night with “Ready to Start”. Favorite line “I would rather be wrong then to live in the shadow of your song. My mind is open wide and I’m ready to start”. Not a bad way to kick off the 90 minute show in which every song was an anthem. There’s a reason Rolling Stone Magazine called them one of the top 50 shows of all time.

Primal Scream’s been around for a long time but I’d never heard of them. “Rocks” just pumps energy and their catalog is deep. They perform mostly in Europe – one of the reasons I’ve not seen them yet. They’re on the list.

Lisa McClung and I before Gossip at Coachella

My friend Lisa found me one day and told me – “you have to hear Beth Ditto and Gossip”. From the first hit of the bass and drum she controls the room. She blew up our little tent at Coachella and her energy for rock and roll is insatiable. “Dime Store Diamond” is deliciously trashy.

I remember hearing a Bud commercial with one of their tunes so I searched the Chemical Brothers out and then got mesmerized by their progressive style at the Hollywood Bowl. “The Golden Path” stuck with me.

Local Natives are indeed, local natives – from Silver Lake, CA and can be found selling out clubs up and down Sunset strip. It took 10 years for their first album to make it from the UK to the US but anyone who saw them at Coachella this year (or last month at the Music Box) will tell you they kill. “Sun Hands” just plays nicely into this collection.

Athlete played the Troubadour in June and the UK band hit me hard with “Tokyo”. Found them through hypem.com

The Troubadour, good friends and my favorite club in LA

If I wasn’t already at Band of Horses at the Greek I’d have surely gone to see Passion Pit open for Muse – even if it was Staples. Their Coachella set on the first day was plagued with technical difficulties but the Cambridge, MA band got through it and still sounded stellar. “Moth’s Wings” burn “incandescently” for me.

Justin Vernon, lead singer for Bon Iver, left that band after one album to collaborate with a Collections of Colonies of Bees and created Volcano Choir and this song, “Island, IS” that reminds me how talented this guy is and how much I miss Bon Iver.

If you missed the VMA’s you missed Florence and the Machine, but I didn’t miss when my daughter and friends packed into the Troubadour last Halloween to see this porcelain skinned red headed goddess with a voice that makes me “Howl”. She’s doing three nights at the Wiltern in November. If you miss her there – you’ll be missing a spectacular talent. She was THE highlight of Coachella.

Florence and the Machine, Troubadour 10/09

Lissie is part Stevie Nicks, part Regina Spector and all soul. One verse from “When I’m Alone” by accident a few months back sent me into a frenzy to find this fresh faced mid-western farm girl that had all of us at the Troubadour last week in a trance. Humble, grateful and hugely talented. Plus her piercing blue eyes just melt me.

The Stereophonics are the best band most people have never heard of. It’s very hard to choose from their very deep catalog but “Show Me How” is right up there for me. If you’ve ever been in a “blackened mood”, been in a funk and wanted to just get that black cloud “out of your life” close your eyes and let this song course through you. Reach out to your friend, your lover, your spouse and let them “show you how” to see the light again.

I was lucky enough to catch some of Frank Turner’s set at Lollapallooza this year, having missed him open for Gaslight Anthem at the Music Box. The most appropriate lyric in “Substitute”….“If music was the food of love, then I’d be a fat romantic slob. Music, it’s my substitute for love.”

You progressive techno fans may know the Happy Mondays. I didn’t…until I saw them open for the Psychedelic Furs at the 930 Club in Washington, DC (a bucket list whole in the wall for sure!). “Angel” is a song you want to be in the fast lane for. Crank it up and hit the pedal.

Thievery Corporation at the 9:30 Club in Washington where I was lucky enough to see the Happy Mondays as well

He calls himself “The Little Idiot” but Moby is far that. He sings, plays keyboard, guitar, bass guitar and drums. He can DJ or play all those instruments through electronics and he CRUSHED at EDC this year. He’s been around since the early 90’s but I came across him just a year or so ago. “Extreme Ways” says it all… “I would stand in line for this. There’s always room in life for this”.

How can you go wrong with three people named Maxi Jazz, Sister Bliss and Rollo. The trio, better known as Faithless just plain gets my trance on without being too “house”. I chose “No Roots” as a great example of how they cross over into rock and trip hop. But I could have easily gone with “God is a DJ” which appropriately describes my love of live music…”This is my church. This is where I heal my hurts. For tonight God is a DJ”.

Call them dance, call them punk, call them electronica or just call me if you want to come to the Hollywood Bowl on 10/15 to see LCD Soundsystem. I’m missing my 30th HS reunion to see them for the 4th time. Take the time to feel “Yr City’s a Sucker” and then just plow into their three album catalog.

Phish covers Exile on Main Street cover-to-cover. Indio 10/31/00

Warning – this song is admittedly self indulgent and probably out of character with the rest of this collection but I couldn’t hold back. At 2pm on Halloween Day 2009, I got word that Phish would be performing my favorite ALBUM of all time “Exile on Main Street” for their annual cover to cover cover performance. Forty-five minutes later I was on the road to Indio. By 930p I was out of mind dancing to “Loving Cup”; my very favorite song on that album. I love that I can share that performance here with you today. Tens of thousands of glow sticks reigning down with each chorus hook – maybe the single best song of the 1000+ shows I’ve seen. And I’m not even that into Phish. Take time to enjoy this one and remember that The Rolling Stones may still be the best rock and roll band ever.

This has been H-On Music.

Peace. Love. Go see live music.

You trusted me on Florence and the Machine. Trust me on Lissie. She just sold out the Troubadour and doused us in her beauty and humble mid-west upbringing. Rocked the house and got us all jumping.

Check out her range while you turn up the volume and let her wash over you.

Don't Let the Soft Looks Fool You...Lissie Rocks HARD!

A soulful voice with a raw intensity that comes from her love of music and her gratitude for being able to share it with us.

Many thanks to all my friends at the Troubadour for a great night. Alysia, Mike especially.

Lucky Austin, TX – you get her next at this weekend’s ACL Festival

If you don’t know me all that well I see hidden meanings in every song. Some lyric or hook that hadn’t hit me before or a tune that was meant to be played at that exact moment becomes a message I wasn’t expecting or an answer to a problem I’d been looking to solve. So it wasn’t lost on me, that while fast forwarding through the older songs in my playlist, in search of new music to share with my CD club this month, I rewound my iPod and stopped back at The Rolling Stones’ “You Can’t Always Get What You Want“. The tune won’t make the cut for this disc since it’s all about music that’s NEW to me but it was just what I needed today to help me remember the beauty in my life.

People deal with stress differently. Many, I suspect turn to exercise and for me running has always been my thing. But I was sidelined with a knee injury and then held back from it for a long time while I rehabbed it. I’ve picked up the bike, enjoy spinning and yoga but there’s nothing like a run to clear your head and over the past several months I’ve been strong enough to run hard and run often. And for me, there’s nothing like great music to make you feel lucky to be alive and to help you appreciate all the beauty in life.

So, when a stressed out day (the hottest in Los Angeles history) left me reeling, I set out on a long run through Manhattan Beach in search of new tunes holding lyrics that would help me work through what was in my head. Passing through some great new artists; Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson, Local Natives and Gossip to name a few, I wasn’t really hearing anything meaningful in my search. But as the incredible voices of the London Bach Choir that open this great song rushed in my ears I stopped mid-stride and thought I could really use a dose of the familiar right now. Then, as often happens about halfway through a good run, my adrenalin was pumping and feeling of bliss came over me.

The Manhattan Beach Pier by Emma Beech

My feet were moving again as I looked up and finally realized that I’d been running along side a beautiful Sunset on the horizon of the Pacific that I hadn’t noticed. Then, as if it were a movie this town is famous for, everything rolled from there and helped me remember what’s really important; moms and small babies in strollers, families out walking their dogs, good friends enjoying cocktails on their porches, sprinklers glossing up lawns and, flowers blowing in the ocean breeze. The colors of the magnificent sunset completely overwhelmed me and had me feeling like I was running on clouds.

With the song blaring in my head my smile widened with each stride and became permanently fixed there as my lungs filled with sea air and everything in life was right again. “If you try sometimes, you get what you need” and I needed this; my arms stretched out like the wings of a Gulf Stream and my fingers strumming through the chords, as I sprinted from lifeguard tower to lifeguard tower stopping in between each one to take in the purple mountains and deep blue sea outside my adopted hometown.

With the sun setting and everyone in sight leaning back to take in all in I let it all go in crazed dance as I waited for that flash of light. Then the orange ball of fire that is so familiar here was gone and my life was right again. The stress was gone, the appreciation for where I live and the good people in my life was back and in a flash of my own I was up the hill in a sprint for home with Deep Purple screaming their 1972 hit “Highway Star” and helping me remember the importance of not fast forwarding through those familiar songs that keep me grounded in what’s important.

Sounds Are, Indeed, Sunshine

Thought it was worth passing on this quote that a friend posted on Facebook today.

“Music is something you can’t hold in your hands, smell it, taste it or even see it, yet somehow just coming together and feeling these little vibrations that tickle our eardrums can somehow lift us all up out of our most difficult moments in life to unimaginable heights” ~ Michael Franti

Franti is coming to Club Nokia on September 22nd and I have six tickets for my friends, wife and children. If I could bring all of you – I would. Of all the artists I’ve found in the last few years, no one makes me smile, jump or dance more than this guy right here. And I guarantee you if you come to the show and you need a hug – he’ll give you one when he comes down into the crowd to stay with anyone who wants to meet him after it’s long complete.

“Power to the Peaceful”…

Mapping Memories to Music

Today’s my birthday and, while I didn’t go to a show today, music played a big role in the day as many of you expected. It started ordinarily enough with a run. I can’t run without music. Before the iPod I ran with a CD player. Before that it was a Walkman cassette player. I ran along the Pacific and thanked the universe for putting me here, in Manhattan Beach. Cycled through a bunch of songs including the soulful guitar of Martin Sexton’s “In the Journey” and finished with Phish’s cover of The Rolling Stones’ “Loving Cup” from their complete performance of the “Exile on Main Street” album on Halloween night 2009. Typical of my life – I found out it was being performed that night and 45 minutes later I was in the car, headed 3 hours into the desert to be there with Robin, my sister-in-law and concert buddy.

As today unfolded, I got to thinking about all the friends and family in my life – through the Facebook posts so many of you were kind enough to leave. It made me realize how lucky I am to have you all and it got me thinking about how many of us are connected directly through our time together at shows OR through the experiences we’ve shared separately with bands we love.

My first memory of loving music was in 1969. At age 7, living in Queens, NY I clung to my first phonograph – a plastic-record-player spinning the Carpenters’ “Close to You”. About the same time, I was in my underwear in my dad’s tuxedo shirt jumping on the bed pretending to be Tom Jones singing “It’s Not Unusual” on TV while my parents were out. The sounds of BJ Thomas, Diana Ross and the Supremes and The O’ Jays on AM radio in the car with my parents come to mind. Enjoying Sinatra, Streisand and Bennett with them gave me a bond that words never could have at that age.

My First Record Player Spun The Carpenters

When we moved to Lawrence, Long Island in 1974 I got an FM radio where, at the impressionable age of twelve, I discovered the soothing and sultry voice of Carol Miller, WPLJ DJ. Hearing her today on XM Radio made me remember falling asleep each night to the sounds of Led Zeppelin, Clapton and the Who. I can easily recall the 8-Track Player clicking away to “Tommy” – my first rock “opera” and possibly the album that changed my view of music forever.

The first album that spoke to me as a teenager

In 1975 when Bruce Springsteen’s album “Born to Run” came out I locked myself in my room and memorized every nuance of the powerful ode to youth and rebellion. “Thunder Road” is still my Karaoke “go to” song. Like many east coast kids, the surrounding years were spent at sleep away. In my case, as with so many of my Facebook friends, the good times were spent at Camp Monroe sharing moments like lip syncing to “Stairway to Heaven” at the Canteen after a night in the woods, getting psyched for inter-camp games at Sperber’s house in the country or practicing our Color War songs to JT’s “You Got a Friend” and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide”.

I went to the first of 125 Grateful Dead shows in High School with Glenn Goldman on Halloween 1979 and did bad things with Michael Paradise and Michael Freeman listening to the ORGINAL Doobie Brothers. The soundtrack of HS was Quadrophenia (I fancied myself a “Mod” throwing my scooter into the ocean in rebellion) and my first car crash was set to the tune of Jackson Browne’s late for the sky.

In college, Bono stood on top of a 25 foot speaker waving an American flag outside my dorm window singing “Bloody Sunday” when it was “indy”. I traveled the country, touring with the Dead and Ira Platt discovering the power of music to navigate the waters of my impending adult life.

1985 Ira arrives at Hershey Park, PA for another epic show

1986 at Alpine Valley, WI - The Dead

Moving to California in 1985, I discovered west coast Dead shows in Berkley, Ventura and Irvine while still traveling across the country to do shows in the Meadowlands in NJ. In 1986 I decided to marry Marci at a Santana show at the Wiltern even though she hated the Dead. I knew it would be impossible to convert her when she panned “Eyes of the World” but somehow we’re still together after 23 years. Thanks to Facebook, you can all appreciate just how wonderful she has to be to let me lead this life.

2004 Marci's gift gave me the ability to share music with my girls

Until Jerry Garcia died in 1995 it was all Dead all the time and it created a void in my life. I didn’t know what to listen to. I stopped seeing shows and didn’t realize how much I missed it until Marci gave me an iPod for Father’s Day in 2004. It was then I discovered how much Samantha liked the music I grew up with. At 12, she began to turn me on to new music, we started seeing shows together (30 or more I’m sure, by now) and I fell in love with music all over again.

I’ve been to over 1,000 concerts in my life with over 200 of them in the last three years – driven by the excitement of sharing music with my family and with the thousands of strangers that come for many of the same reasons; to find the joy that music creates and to remind myself regularly of how great life can be. To make room, I’ve given up many of the material things that don’t really matter and channeled my energy away from the things in life I can’t change. The result has been an incredibly satisfying and fulfilling journey through parenthood, marriage, travel and friendship.

Finally making it to Red Rocks in Colorado

As a present to myself today, I bought a ticket for Sam and me to see Lotus in Boston in November. Marci and I will see Phoenix, Vampire Weekend, Michael Franti and Florence and the Machine with our kids Emma (15) and Dana (12). They seem willing and eager to join me on this journey and I’m hoping that I’ll see many of you out there. Whether we see each other or not, please know I’ve found a special place for you all by sharing my adventures with you and hearing about your own experiences with music.

Thank you all, from the deepest part of my soul, for your wishes today and for being in my life.
Peace. Love. Go see live music.

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